The Houston Dynamo followed up their 3-0 win over the Philadelphia Union in Wednesday’s Open Cup Final with a 3-2 win against the visiting San Jose Earthquakes. With the playoffs about to be out of reach, Wilmer Cabrera opted to start a handful of young players. Although the Dynamo looked like they were in charge for most of the game, it would be San Jose who would get two goals before halftime. The Dynamo responded by putting many of their regular starters back on the field and it worked. The final whistle would blow and the Dynamo saved themselves from being eliminated from playoff contention.
Quick Thoughts about the Game:
1) Looking at Wilmer Cabrera’s starting XI it’s clear he wants some players to develop and grow chemistry with some of the pieces who will be paramount to next season. He gave Ronaldo Peña and Memo Rodríguez starts on the right and left wings respectively and kept Mauro Manotas in to see how they play off each other. I did not think we should have started Juan David Cabezas who is coming off his first 90 minute competitive game since the Western Conference Finals. A double game week for a guy coming off an injury might not be the best idea and there were a few collisions he had that made me nervous, but thankfully he made it through to the end. The use of subs by Cabrera was also effective although using all of them by the 63rd minute reminded me of when former Head Coach Owen Coyle used all three of his subs before the 60th minute which also happened against the San Jose Earthquakes oddly enough. However, the outcome this time around was a lot better.
2) Although the Dynamo played well in the first half, they were unfortunate to go down two goals. The first penalty began with Adam Lundqvist caught high up the left side of the field which wouldn’t have been a problem had we not turned the ball over. This forced Alejandro Fuenmayor into a tough 1v1 situation where he brought Tommy Thompson down in the 18 yard box. The second came after the Dynamo struggled to clear the ball. Jackson Yueill squared a ball to the top of the 6 yard box and Fuenmayor, trying to get to the ball first, ended up putting the ball into his own net. The players and coaches easily could have rage quit this game with the season all but over, but they stayed in it and came back to get three points in front of their fans. The excitement over the comeback produced a ton of energy by the crowd and it was one of the most enjoyable games of the year.
3) One thing that was absolutely crucial in this game was Tomás Martínez was getting on the ball and distributing it. We can debate whether or not he’s a true 10, but against the Earthquakes he was checking to the defensive midfielders to receive it and then getting his head up and looking wide to wingers. His through ball to Manotas helped start the come back and it was a beauty of an assist.
4) Mauro Manotas continues to demonstrate that walking away from Cubo Torres was not really a big deal. His 15th goal of the season was scored against the Earthquakes last Saturday and that broke the single season scoring record set by Torres. Manotas at age 23 is still young and has plenty of time to continue to improve. He’s been on fire lately scoring 4 goals in his last 4 MLS games. He was also the Golden Boot winner of the US Open Cup, a tournament that he’s thrived in.